Covid-19 has transformed the ways in which we live and work in cities. As a result, there is an urgent need to understand how to practise, make sense of and sustain city life in the context of pandemic prevention measures.

In this, our interim project report, we demonstrate ways in which arts practice and performance research methods can provide vital new approaches to city pandemic planning, both in the context of COVID-19 and for future crises.

The report offers city emergency and resilience planners, in the UK and internationally, a series of ‘invitations to innovate’ that offer means of addressing five pandemic challenges: reaching communities, re-designing places, engaging people with public health messaging, managing perceptions of COVID-19 and vaccinations, connecting people to alleviate isolation and loneliness. 

In publishing this report now, and sharing emerging findings, we seek to begin a conversation in the UK and beyond on the ways that ‘performance’ might offer new methods and new ways of thinking about emergency and resilience planning. As such, we aim to meet an established call for new emergency preparedness and resilience planning methodologies and practices, particularly for pandemic planning and response.

Helen Hinds, Head of Resilience Planning, Newcastle City Council, reflects: “This report is exciting because it reveals new ways of thinking about arts practice in a city, and invites emergency and resilience professionals to develop new modes of pandemic response. Such work is important to the Emergency Planning community because it promotes innovation which develops and changes our professional practice. This can give us better tools to provide a more nuanced response for our communities if an emergency happens.”

Through the next months of the project, we will be engaging in conversation with colleagues in the arts and those in emergency response and resilience preparedness about these findings and we will be reflecting on their potential usefulness in developing city pandemic strategy. If you are interested in being involved in these conversations, please contact us.

The research has also been distilled into a recent article for Crisis Response Journal

This research is supported by funding of over £120,000 received through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19 fund – set up to support projects which contribute to our understanding of, and response to, the Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts.

Andrews and Duggan, 2021. ‘How Performance Can Be Vital to Emergency Preparedness’, Crisis Response Journal 16.3, September 2021

In this article, we reflect on the ways that arts practice and, particularly, performance, can make a vital contribution to city pandemic response. See details of the journal issue here.


Andrews and Duggan, Co-Directors of Performing City Resilience, have published widely in books, academic articles, and professional publications. They have presented their work at conferences and bespoke events on the performance of city resilience.

For a key open access publication on the project, see their work on Situation Rooms in New Orleans. Please get in touch for more information on the works below.

Selected Publications

Andrews and Duggan (2021), ‘The art and performance of city strategy in a pandemic’ (22.04.21) in National Centre for Academic Exchange, Evidence Hub,

Andrews and Duggan (2021), ‘Towards Strategy as Performance in Hazard Mitigation: Reflections on Performing City Resilience in New Orleans’ in Research in Drama Education, 26.1 pp.187-201. DOI: 10.1080/13569783.2020.1844563

Andrews (January 2020), Performing Home, Abingdon: Routledge.

Andrews and Duggan (2019), ‘Situation Rooms: Performing City Resilience in New Orleans’, Liminalities: A journal of performance studies, 15.1 Open Access.

Duggan (2019), ‘Rethinking Tourism: On the Politics and Practices of “Staging” New Orleans’. Performance Research, 24: 5 .

Duggan (2019), Performance Research, special issue: Staging the Wreckage, Vol 24, Issue 5. Taylor and Francis. Co-edited with Gianna Bouchard.

Duggan (2018), ‘On Ignoring Risk’. Performance Research (100th issue), Taylor and Francis.

Andrews and Duggan (2018), ‘Performing City Resilience: A case study of New Orleans’, 100 Resilient Cities, News( (invited submission).

Andrews (2017), ‘The Possibilities of Loneliness in a Changing World: Performing Place in Withdrawn’.Sagan, O. & Miller, E. (eds.), Narratives of Loneliness: Multidisciplinary Perspectives of the 21st Century, Abingdon: Routledge.

Duggan (Sept, 2017), ‘Unsettling the Audience: On the Politics, Ethics and Aesthetics of Anxiety in Contemporary Performance’, Key Words, Vol. 15, Spokesman Books. 

Duggan (2017), ‘On the Radical Political Potential of Performance: witnessing, implication and ethics in representations of the Northern Irish Dirty Protests and Hunger Strikes (1976 – 1981)’, Contemporary Theatre Review, Vol 27, No 4, Taylor and Francis.

Andrews (2016), ‘The Art of Placemaking’ International Arts Manager, 12.2, pp. 12-13 (2016). Reduced open access version, Andrews, S. (2016) ‘Placemaking Demystified’

Duggan (2016), Performing (for) Survival: Theatre, Crisis and Extremity, Palgrave Macmillan. Co-edited with Lisa Peschel.

Andrews (2015), ‘Surge, Sway and Yaw: Mooring Performances in The Boat Project and A Room for London’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 25.4, pp. 502-517.

Duggan (2012), Trauma-Tragedy: Symptoms of Contemporary Performance, Manchester University Press.

Duggan (2011), Performance Research, special issue: On Trauma, Vol 16, Issue 1. Taylor and Francis. Co- edited with Mick Wallis.

Duggan (2011), ‘Trauma and Performance: Maps, narratives and folds’, Performance Research, co-author with Mick Wallis, Vol 16, Issue 1, Taylor and Francis.

Duggan (2016), ‘”Dis-ease” and the Performance of Radical Resistance in the Maze Prison’. In Duggan, P. and Peschel, L., eds., Performing (for) Survival: Theatre, Crisis and Extremity. Palgrave Macmillan.


Andrews and Duggan (2018), ‘Processes and Practices for Performing City Resilience in a healthy city’, in Healthy City Design International, Creating Healthy Cities for All: Designing for Equity and Resilience

Duggan (2017), keynote presentation, ‘Attempting Conversations with the State: ‘Loose’ Performances of Radical Resistance’, at NUI Galway’s international conference “Political Theatre in Britain and Ireland Since 1950: the Legacies of John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy”.

Andrews (2016), ‘Between the Woods and the Water: Performing loneliness in the context of environmental change’, Loneliness Symposium, UCLAN, Preston.

Andrews (2015), ‘Performing Homes Under Pressure: Artistic responses to empty homes’Histories of Home Subject Specialist Network, Homes Under Pressure, Geffrye Museum, London.

Artistic Practice

Duggan (2013), something-somewhere-amiss, performance script commissioned by Foundation & Trust (in conjunction with and part funded by CERN). Performed at Camberwell Film Studios. 


Interdisciplinary Approaches to Resilience: This one-day conference and workshop brought artists, resilience professionals and civil engineers together with academics from across performance and cultural studies, engineering, sociology, psychology, environmental and human geography, literary studies, and business to explore new understandings and practices of city resilience. Funding secured through competitive application to University of Surrey’s Urban Living research theme. 30 delegates, January 2019.

The Arts and City Resilience in New Orleans: hosted at and part funded by the Contemporary Art Centre, New Orleans, this workshop brought together journalists, arts stakeholders, city planners and resilience professionals to explore what resilience meant in New Orleans and how the arts might contribute to new understandings and practices. 25 attendees, April 2018.